Two minutes that changed many lives
Of course we turned to the internet and quickly confirmed via Twitter that Jon had heard correctly. By the time we stopped to get gas, video clips of the announcement were being posted to Facebook and status updates showed various reactions to this news. As we drove, I continued to read the tweets from the press conference following the conference session. The more I read, the stronger became my testimony that this change is inspired and what is needed, as Elder Jeffrey R. Holland stated, to provide "more and more willing and worthy missionaries to spread the light and the truth and the hope and the salvation of the gospel of Jesus Christ to an often dark and fearful world."
As the mother of one son who has returned from service as an LDS missionary and another son who is currently serving, I have witnessed the hope and light the message of Christ has brought to those that my sons met. Missionaries serve as representatives of the Savior here on earth. They share the message of hope that Christ shared 2,000 years ago. They offer service to their fellow men just as Christ served. Christ set the example that missionaries of the LDS faith try to follow.
As we drove, Rick and I discussed how this change will affect many that we know. Already many of the girls that graduated with our two younger sons have said that they are excited about this new opportunity. Some have even contacted their bishops to start the process of paperwork and application for service. There are many families such as ours with sons now serving or ready to serve that will have the possibility of more than one child dedicated to service to the Lord at a time. This could place a financial strain on these families, but Rick and I discussed the opportunity it provides to others who have never had the opportunity or who are better able to afford it to step forward and receive the blessings that come from providing financial support for a missionary. I can testify that there are blessings in heaven predicated upon this sacrifice.
What does this announcement mean to our family personally? Jon is 18. Jon is ready to serve. He has prepared himself physically, mentally and spiritually to leave his home and family for two years and dedicate himself to the Lord. In many phone conversations throughout the day, we discussed options with him. If he could go, he would go in December. But there are things to take into consideration - Can we handle two sons on a mission financially? The answer to that is a cautious yes. We had planned an overlap of six months for our two sons, a full year will present a slightly greater challenge. What will happen with his schooling? Jon had planned to have his associate's degree before he left. He is willing to delay this till his return. His scholarship will be put on hold and waiting for him in two years. He has not progressed so far in his studies that he will face the same speed bump that his older brother did upon his return. What about his orthodontic work? This could be the one thing that puts the brakes on his accelerated plans. His next appoint with the orthodontist is the end of the month and we will know more then.
I will admit that I met this announcement with mixed emotions at first and more than a few tears. Jon is my "baby". When he was born, we never expected to have any more children and it remained that way for seven years. I know I have held on to his staying at home with a white-knuckle grip and have been so grateful that he chose to attend Dixie State College for at least this first year. I love his calmness, his positive outlook on life, his unflappability. Our home will feel truly empty without him. Rick bemoaned that with Jon leaving, he will be truly outnumbered. Our house will shift from a house of men that we women endured to a house of estrogen with Rick forced to hold his own.
I know that serving a mission is the right choice. He will be blessed, our family will be blessed and most importantly, the people he is called to serve will be blessed. So I say, "Let's get him gone!"